Oblivious to the smell of the moist earth, the sound of drums beating and the sputter of oil, Ram Gopal’s eyes do not waver from his rolling pan and stick.
Seated at a table on Island Grounds where ‘Masala Kart’, a three-day street food festival began on Friday, Gopal was dishing out generously-sized aloo paranthas by the minute to hungry visitors. He had little time to chat about the 40 years he has spent making parathas all over India.
The festival had everything from MLA pesarattu to malpua, from putharekulu to haleem. Last year, the fest was held on Elliot’s beach, but this year, they have more food, more space, and more importantly more car parking, said Vinod Gopal, CEO, Red Chariots, which is organising the fest.
He said they had over 120 stalls and cooks from around the country. “For an average family to eat all kinds of food from different parts of the country could take at least 20 years. So we decided to bring all the food to one place,” he said.
The organisers have roped in people from Udipi, Jammu, Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Pune, Vijaywada, Rajahmundry, Mysore and Tirunelveli among other places.
Last year, they had 80 cooks, this time they have around 120, said Vinod, adding that the cooks have been handpicked to make the food as authentic as it gets. So, there’s paranthas from Paranthe Wali Gali and halwa from Tirunelveli.
Sonali Prakash, who had come with her husband and son, said the idea of bringing chefs from around the country to one place was a great idea. “I just had Jhal Muri, and it tastes like authentic Kolkata street food. The layout too is better this year,” she said.
On Sunday, the organisers are planning to ask two teams of cooks with three members each to collaborate and come up with a special offering. The festival will be on till August 4 between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Island Grounds.